Bristol Film Festival 2015: Screens Six Palestinian Films

The Bristol Palestine Film Festival brings a new season of Palestinian films to Bristol, Belfast and Borderlines – the UK’s largest Rural Film Festival. Venues, times and prices vary.

The Bristol Palestine Film Festival, as part of Conversations About Cinema: Impact of Conflict, invites you to explore the repercussions of conflict, on Palestinian lives and culture.

Conversations About Cinema: Impact of Conflict is a UK wide BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) project supported by the National Lottery led by Watershed (Bristol) in partnership with Chapter (Cardiff) and QFT (Belfast) that opens up debates and discussion through film, exploring for next six months, how film and filmmakers address the impact of conflict.

From 3rd – 22nd March, Borderlines Film Festival (The Courtyard, Hereford), Watershed (Bristol), and Queen’s Film Theatre (Belfast), will play host to a series of events including film screenings, talks and online discussions, aimed at getting under the skin of the impact of the Israeli Occupation on Palestinian cultural identity in both Palestine and in Israel

Curated by award-winning filmmaker Annemarie Jacir (When I Saw You), who says:

‘When you are constantly being blocked or working under intense restrictions such as occupation, you need to find creative responses. This creativity is perhaps one of the hallmarks of Palestinian cinema right now, and is reflected in these films”.

The season kicks of at the Borderlines Film Festival with three films, each dealing with the Israeli Occupation in a completely different way. In Villa Touma, it is largely ignored, the characters themselves can’t face the reality and lock themselves away, asking in an almost dreamlike way: what would life be like without it? In Open Bethlehem the weight and restrictive power of the occupation is felt. Businesses fail to function, life is increasingly difficult. In Omar we see how the occupier and occupied become complicit in each other’s daily lives, they are inseparable with devastating outcomes.

Six films in total will be screened including Return to Haifa (Kassem Hawal) often cited as “the first Palestinian fiction film”, despite the fact that the director is an Iraqi.

Cinema lovers will also get a chance to see Villa Touma the feature debut from award-winning female screenwriter Suha Arraff (Lemon Tree.) The film is set in Ramallah during the early days of the Israeli occupation. Three Palestinian Christian sisters who’ve lost their land and status due to the 1967 war with Israel and their inability to face the painful new reality that’s been imposed on them. It recently sparked controversy across the film industry. Made primarily with Israel public funds, the director Arraf a Palestinian citizen of Israel registered her film as a Palestinian movie, leading to a threat to the director of having to pay back money to the Israeli Film Fund. Speaking about this Suha Arraf says:

“Palestinian citizens of Israel are about 20% and pay taxes just like any other citizen, yet get far less than their quota of government spending. One would expect the ministry of culture to be spending 20% of its budget on the Palestinian minority, yet it is merely 2% that we get, the rest goes to Jewish Israelis. So as taxpayers, we are entitled to this money, and we will continue to fight for it”. Suha Arraf, Palestinian filmmaker and screenwriter

Those looking to get more involved with the conversations about cinema can join director Suha Arraff, Annemarie Jacir, David Owen and Mark Cosgrove (Curator, Watershed) in a live online chat on Thursday 12th March at 2pm. This will be held via twitter, see #convocinema for more details.

Speaking about the season, Festival director David Owen says:

“Palestinians are so often portrayed as terrorists or victims, we have lost sight of the real people. These people have great stories and a desire to share them with the world”.

To keep up-to-date with plans and news see; find Bristol Palestine Film Festival on Facebook or follow @BristolPFF on Twitter.

The Bristol Palestinian Film Festival (BPFF) is a non-profit initiative.

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